March 1, 2012

Can't take my ICE off you

March 2012

Can’t Take My Ice Off You

One of the best ways to beat the summer heat is to eat halo-halo. Whether it is halo-halo from a stand in your local neighborhood or at restaurants, this is one sure way to keep you cool.

        Halo-halo, translated loosely in Filipino, means ‘mix-mix.’ Traditional halo-halo is a layer of shaved or crushed ice and all or any of these ingredients, depending on preference and availability: pounded dried rice (pinipig), sweet preserved beans (red beans, chickpeas, adzuki), jackfruit (langka), caramelized sweet potato (camote), sweetened coconut meat (macapuno), slices of plantain (saging na saba), gelatin, tapioca pearls (sago), sugar palm (kaong), topped with sweet purple yam (ube), caramel custard (leche flan), or ice cream. It is usually served in a tall, clear glass or in a bowl and drizzled with evaporated milk or coconut milk after which, dive in by mixing, hence the name, all the ingredients and eat with haste.

        It is a popular shaved ice dessert especially during the summer season, but nowadays, Pinoys are bound to have their halo-halo fix anytime of the day. If you want a glass of halo-halo, all you have to do is visit a curbside eatery, a mobile kiosk, a hotel lobby cafe, or simply visit the mall.

        In the provinces, streets sprout with makeshift stands,  though there are some that are well-known even to Manileños, such as Aling Mauring’s in Pagsanjan. Many rural markets also count halo-halo in their repertoire.

Halo-halo at Home:
2 T sweetened kidney beans
2 T sweetened garbanzos (chickpeas)
2 T minatamis na saba
2 T sago and/or gulaman
2 T kaong or nata de coco
2 T langka and/or macapuno
2 T ube
1 T leche flan
1 T pinipig
sugar, according to taste
shaved or crushed ice
evaporated milk
scoop of ube-flavored ice cream (optional)

Procedure: Mix all ingredients in a tall glass or a bowl then add crushed ice and milk. Top with a scoop of ube ice cream or your favorite ice cream flavor. Serve.


If you want something less traditional, then we give you Guagua, Pampanga’s famous Razon’s Halo-halo. Dubbed by foodies as one of the best halo-halo in town, it’s known for its powdery ice shavings and minimalist ingredients.

2 T sugar syrup
3-4 T macapuno
2 T minatamis na saba (diced)
1-2 T leche flan
evaporated milk
shaved ice

Procedure:To prepare sugar syrup: Stir in sugar in a boiling water and remove from heat. Let cool and set aside. Blend the macapuno in a blender.

To assemble: Place the ingredients in a tall glass in this order: macapuno, diced banana, sugar syrup, ice, and evaporated milk. Serve. – By Ma. Janine Bianca A. Romero

The Big Shave
Crushed or shaved? Electric ice shaver versus manual ice shaver? To get that perfect halo-halo depends on the quality of the ice. As much as possible, avoid icebergs floating in the glass and have instead that ice-blended concoction or a smoothie consistency. To determine the best ice shaver for your need, consider convenience, cost, effort, and time to be consumed in the preparation process.

Back in the day, if you want a glass of halo-halo, you will have to wait for the vendor to make ‘kinaskas na yelo’ (grated ice). Bent over a huge block of ice, he makes an almost rhythmic ‘kaskas’ sound as he scrapes the ice back and forth with a ‘raspador,’ a hollow handheld metal plane tool (right) similar to a carpenter’s plane. As he scrapes the block, the hollow part gets filled with ice. Once filled, he opens it up and pours its contents onto one of the prepared glasses with sweetened rubies. Raspador has origins in Mexico which is used to make a shaved ice dessert called raspados, hence the name. This metal plane may be bought in wet markets or supermarkets and is one of the cheapest ways to make grated ice.The ice, however, sometimes has the texture of crunchy hailstones. Price starts at P80.

        But if you have the budget and would like to put up a halo-halo stand come summertime or just entertain guests with a snowball, then there are manual ice crushers or shavers with handles that can be cranked up to make finer ice granules. These shavers are small and portable, and can make several batches in no time. Still, like the metal plane, you need arm strength. Price for these portable shavers starts at P1,000.

An electric ice shaver can do snow cones, snow balls, and bubble teas with uniform, powdery ice crystals. Expect it to be pricey, though, but without the hassle of cranking a machine or grating ice. An electric ice shaver may be purchased in home store appliances, from online sellers. To score a bargain, a trip to Divisoria, Quiapo, Binondo, or Baclaran will be worth it. Price starts at P1,000.

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